For the first time since the Covid pandemic began in 2020, Pacific nations met in Cairns for the 9th Pacific Search and Rescue (PACSAR) Workshop and 3rd Pacific Women in Maritime Association (PacWIMA) Conference (27 February to 3 March), hosted by Australia and supported by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Pacific Community (SPC). 113 delegates from across the Pacific attended the five-day event.
The Pacific region is 98 per cent ocean and 2 per cent land, and communities may be spread across multiple islands, separated by open water. People depend on sea and shipping services for supplies, to visit friends and family and sometimes for their daily commute to work or school.
This makes search and rescue (SAR) operations particularly challenging. The PACSAR event will bring together senior SAR experts from across the region to share knowledge and help build the capacity of Pacific Island nations to deliver effective SAR responses to maritime or aviation incidents.
The Pacific is a region of maritime nations with strong seafaring cultures. Women represent only two per cent of the worldwide seafarer workforce, so it is critical to empower and advance women in the maritime community, and particularly in the Pacific.
This will be the 3rd PacWIMA conference, which aspires to transform the maritime sector to become more inclusive of women in maritime. The focus of this event will be to celebrate recent advancements towards gender equality in the maritime community, share the knowledge and insights of women maritime leaders, foster collaboration between national Women in Maritime chapters, and develop action plans for future work.
Mick Kinley, CEO, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said: “It has been some years since we have had the opportunity to meet our Pacific partners in person. We value this chance to build networks, share knowledge and skills, and develop plans to action important goals for gender equity and safety in the region.”
Leanne Loan, Executive Director Policy and Regulation, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said: “The PacWIMA conference brings together women maritime leaders from across our region to discuss the barriers to gender equity and provide insights to empower women in the Pacific maritime community. The knowledge we gain, experiences we share and plans we make will set the agenda for coming years and allow us to reach important goals for women and girls in the region.”
Mereseini Rakuita, Principal Strategic Lead for Pacific Women and Girls, SPC, said: “Only 11 per cent of our maritime sector are women – that’s only 1 in 10 of an estimated 16,000 workers. But we know when we have a diverse workforce, we make better decisions, so ensuring women in the Pacific are able to equitably work in the sector is a critical priority for this meeting.”
Photo credit: AMSA